Desert Explorers Rendezvous
by Bob Jacoby
The action began actually on Thursday morning (March 10) when a group of us met across the river in Ehrenburg, Arizona to go on the annual Joseo (Bob Jaussaud) two day inbound trip. All of Bob’s trips are spectacular, but this was extra special. We explored both sides of the river between Blythe and Yuma and visited some country that many of us had never seen. We traveled over a couple of the most scenic roads that I have ever been on and really had a fabulous time. The group was able to get back to the Cove in time for the beginning of Happy Hour festivities on Friday afternoon. Elsewhere, in this newsletter there should be pictures and more stories about this great two days as well as about all of the other trips during the weekend.
There were also two other one day trips on Friday which were very interesting. Gerry Dupree led an inbound trip with several vehicles along the historic Bradshaw Trail. Most of the folks who went on this dirt road journey all the way to Blythe had never been on this trail. Also, on Friday Nelson Miller led an afternoon trip to the Mule Mountain Intaglios west of Blythe. Nelson’s knowledge of Native American art and culture makes his trips special.
Whenever the DE has a Happy Hour you can usually count on plenty of food and a wide variety of it. This was no exception. The Rec Room at the Cove was overflowing with mass quantities of good stuff to eat. This really set the stage for an evening of socializing and making plans for attending trips on Saturday and Sunday. The evening was topped off with a special Power Point presentation by DE members Claudia and Alan Heller. The presentation provided fascinating information regarding the strange and extraordinary sights that can be found in the California deserts. Especially interesting to me were pictures of the quirky roadside art on Route 66 in the Mojave. For those who were not there, I highly recommend the Heller’s book, Curiosities of the California Desert.
Saturday morning at the Cove saw three trips beginning at about the same time. Bill Powell and I led an all day trip hitting two areas across the river in Arizona. During the morning we enjoyed a scenic jaunt through the Arizona desert to Plumosa range north of Quartzite. We generally skirted the range but finally followed a road through a pass to the other side of the mountains. This was a fairly easy but interesting trip given all the wildflowers and blooming cactus. The afternoon part of the trip was a more harrowing drive from Quartzite to beautiful Dripping Springs. This road proved to be a rock crawling challenge but fortunately Mr. Neal Johns was along. Neal knew all the tricks and we managed to make it through relatively unscathed. Also on Saturday, Jay Lawrence led an interesting trip to the KOFA Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. There was also some special scenery on that trip. Finally, on Saturday Bill Neill led one of his geology trips. This time to the Whipple Mountains.
Back at the Cove on Saturday night there was plenty of activity. We enjoyed a catered BBQ meal from Rebel BBQ in Blythe. The food was very good and everybody enjoyed the dinner. In my opinion, Rebel BBQ is by far the best place to eat in Blythe. They also have a branch in Lake Havasu. If you like BBQ you can’t beat this! After dinner we were very fortunate to have two guest speakers (Ned Hyducke and his assistant) from the Palo Verde Irrigation District. The presentation was fascinating and we all learned a lot of interesting information about water usage in the Palo Verde Valley. The speakers also provided some interesting historical information about the Valley. To top the evening off most everyone visited the silent auction which has proven to be a valuable fund raiser for the club.
On Sunday morning it was time to say goodbye to the Cove, but the fun wasn’t over. There were three outbound trips to choose from. Nelson Miller led yet another trip to several areas including the intaglios. The reviews on this trip have been highly complementary. Bill Neil also led another geology trip. This time providing a tour of the Mecca Hills. The third trip was led by Gerry Dupree and was an interesting tour of the Paden Pass area north and west of Blythe.
If you like the desert dirt roads and enjoy the comradery of like-minded individuals the DE Rondies are very special. If you didn’t make it this year, plan on it next year. We will begin talking about next year’s Rondy at the DE business meeting on April 15th.
Bradshaw Trail Rondy Inbound Trip
March 10, 2017 • by Jerry Dupree
I have driven the Bradshaw Trail from the Salton Sea to Ripley before, but it was several years ago. This time I was to “lead” a trip by starting about midway between the two and thought I would recognize all of the landmarks and we reviewed the BLM map at the kiosk at the beginning of Summit Road. We met up at the Patton Museum parking lot and everyone arrived within minutes of each other. The trip was attended by Jerry and Dolly Dupree, Allan and Ding Wicker, Will and Julie Smith, Bret Heinrich, Terry and Eileen Ogden, Leonard and Hannah Friedman. Allan volunteered to be the tail and watch over us to be sure we didn’t have any stragglers. The trip proceeded east and we got off I-10 at Red Cloud Road so we could intersect Bradshaw. I took a wrong turn on the Red Cloud mine road, which went about ten miles and dead ended. As embarrassing as it was, it turned out to be the most scenic part of the trip. It cost us some time, but we did get to the Bradshaw Trail. The road parallels the Naval Gunnery Range and is plainly marked. We proceeded eastward and then determined we were running short on time. It was decided to head toward I-10 by way of Wiley Well Road which runs near the Ironwood and the Chuckwalla state prisons. We didn’t miss much scenery except a rough spot through a mountain pass. The scenery on Wiley Well Road was very nice. There is a modern campground near the intersection of Bradshaw Trail and Wiley Well road. I am mentioning this for future reference if anyone is interested in visiting the area.
The trip continued without incident and we arrived at the Rondy in Blythe on time. ~ Jerry
Trip Leader Bill Neill
We had 13 participants in eight vehicles: Bill & Gwenn Neill, Nelson Miller, Barb Midlikoski, Deb & Steve Marschke, Janet & Peter Austin, Anne & George Stoll, Jim Watson, Joe Preiss, Steven Faulstich. Photos by Bill Neill and George Stoll.
Group photo at our lunch stop in Whipple Wash, surrounded by volcanic rock about 20 million years old. (photo by George Stoll using my camera)
From our lunch stop, we hiked a quarter-mile up Whipple Wash to a large cave in the volcanic rock.
The cave is named Skull Cave on Bob Jaussaud’s GPS device, but neither the Internet nor two BLM offices have knowledge of it.
The cave is about 2.5 miles from Lake Havasu and presumably was occupied prehistorically, but has no evidence of occupation.
View from cave interior of metamorphic terrain further upstream that’s separated from overlying volcanic rock by a horizontal fault that’s the main subject of geologic interest.
Kofa Palm Canyon
Trip Leader: Jay Lawrence
Saturday morning of the Rondy found our merry band heading for the west side of the Kofa National Wildlife Preserve, south of Quartzite. Our intrepid explorers included Bruce Barnett; Leonard, Rebecca and Hannah Friedman; Brett Henrich and me.
The day was rather spectacular. The desert was well watered and the ground flowers were in bloom. Larger plants like Ocotillo, Barrel Cactus and Saguaro were showing signs that they would be blooming soon as well. After some easy navigating on graded dirt roads we found the Kofa Palms information kiosk, paused to soak up some knowledge and then headed east to the palm canyon trailhead.
The first half of the trail was clear and well marked. The second half needed a bit of scouting. The palms turned out to be tucked into higher canyons on the north side of the trail, visible in the deep shadows but challenging to hike to. We stayed on the trail going east until we ran out of canyon, finding another lone palm on the southeast end of the canyon. Definitely a fine morning walk.
Opting to put off lunch until we reached our second destination (since it was so close...), we headed out by vehicle back to the kiosk turn and headed north and east onto what is left of the Kofa Queen Canyon Road.
This leg turned out to be a bit less used, more overgrown and more washed out by flashfloods. Fewer tracks, bigger obstacles and looser sand. Still no problem for any of us except for one minor hitch. When we stopped at our lunch destination, Rebecca was nowhere in sight. Leonard thought she had snagged a ride with Bruce, Hannah said no, Bruce said no. Our head count was one short and everybody knows we are only allowed a 10% loss on any trip. Since there were only six of us, we figured we had better find her. Leonard reversed course and picked her up, still waiting at our last photo stop. He may not hear the end of that episode any time soon but Rebecca was in good spirits and everybody grabbed some shade and some lunch.
I am a map addict and had noticed a tinaja marked Cereus Tank on the topo so we took off on a quarter mile hike to find it and find it we did, full of water with a small concrete dam above it and a game camera watching over it. Two benchmarks were on a ledge a few feet away. There were no game tracks but the ground was so rocky any signs would have been hard to spot.
With that mission accomplished, we headed back to Rondy HQ for a swim and dinner. This time everybody was accounted for and there were no losses or caualties. Good trip!
Great photos: Leonard Friedman. Others: Jay
Plomosa Mountains and Dripping Springs
by Bill Powell
Our group met up outside the Rondy HQ at 9:00 a.m. and convoyed to Quartzsite, AZ where we regrouped before continuing onward. The expedition consisted of nine vehicles and 17 intrepid Explorers including, leaders Bob Jacoby and Bill Powell, Ron Ross, Nancy Maclean, Eileen and Terry Ogden, Bill and Julie Smith, Marian and Neal Johns, Joan and Ted Berger, Fredrick Raab, Danny and Norma Siler, Steve Jarvis, and Kate Fesselman.
From Quartzsite, we drove North on AZ 95 and then turned right onto Plomosa Road (aka Bouse Highway). About six miles later, we turned left off of the pavement. Over the next 2 . hours, we followed several BLM dirt roads in a clockwise loop around and through the Plomosa Mountains.
The beginning portion went North along the base of the mountains. This meant crossing washes every so often. Most were shallow and easy to negotiate. However, two of them were more difficult to traverse and some vehicles had to take two or three tries to get over the opposite rim. There were also some sandy patches, but everyone was able to negotiate those easily.
Turning East, we gradually worked our way up a canyon and through a pass to the other side of the range. Several times along the route, including the top of the pass, we stopped for photos as the desert was very much in bloom
Coming down the back side of the mountains, we traveled some distance down a wash before eventually turning right back onto the Bouse Highway. Just before returning to the spot we had left the highway that morning, we stopped at a turn out for lunch and a short hike to “The Fisherman” intaglio.
After our lunch break, we drove back to Quartzsite and got onto the Interstate headed East. A few miles later, we exited onto Gold Nugget Road. Within a few hundred yards we were rewarded by the end of pavement and proceeded a mile of so before turning right onto BLM roads again.
We continued in a Southward direction for a couple of miles to the ruins of the Desert Queen mine. After exploring and photographing the mine, we saddled back up and proceeded back the way we came for about a half mile before turning South again toward Dripping Springs.
The route then went through a series of washes before making a series of steep ascents and descents over some hills and down into a narrow canyon. Going down the canyon for some distance, we made a sharp left and made a final steep climb out of the canyon to Dripping Springs. There was a large enough area to park all of the cars and everyone got out to stretch legs and explore the area. Some of us went down a short path to the spring which seeped out of a low cave up against the cliff. Near the parked cars there was the remains of a stone cabin and two large boulders with petroglyphs.
At this point, we decided to continue down the canyon to complete the loop rather than return the way we came. This proved to be an interesting choice as there were several spots in the next mile that were difficult for some of our vehicles to negotiate. Everyone managed to get through without damage, but we were slowed down considerably while guiding people over the obstacles.
We finally made our way out of the canyon and back onto the flats. Several miles later we emerged back onto pavement in Quartzsite. Everyone then made their way separately back to Blythe and arrived just in time for the Saturday banquet. A long, but satisfying day.
2017 DE Rondy 2-day Inbound Trip
by Bob and Sue Jaussaud
The trip actually started in Needles on Wednesday when most of the crew, including Mignon Slentz, Glenn Shaw, Mike Vollmert, Jim Watson, Mal Roode, and Neal & Marian Johns got together and camped at our place on the Colorado River. That evening, the dinner potluck grew into a tasty turkey dinner. Cheryl Mangin from the Needles Museum joined us for the festivities.
Thursday morning we all started for Blythe before sunrise to meet Bob Jacoby, Nelson Miller, Bill Powell, Randy and Margaret Peterson and Vicki Hill at Blythe, the ofﬁcial start of the trip. On the journey south toward Blythe, we made a brief stop at Wyatt Earp’s house in Vidal, crossed the Colorado River on Agnes Wilson Road and visited the WWII Poston Relocation Camp. Even so, we made it to Blythe by 8:30 a.m. as planned, but just barely.
After gassing up, we all headed south to Cibola Wildlife Refuge, where we visited the historic cottonwood log cabin built by Carl Bishop in 1910. It’s design included a “dog trot” or breezeway separating the kitchen from the living area. This helped keep the living area cool and relatively safe from ﬁre. It also made the dog happy.
Only a short ways below the Bishop cabin, we discovered our planned route to the Red Cloud Mine had been closed by the powers that be for reasons only they know. So, we took the scenic Ehrenberg Cibola Road through the Yuma Proving Ground, past an Iraqi village mock up and over Felipe Pass to AZ 95 in order to continue south.
The Castle Dome Mine Museum was not far from our route, so we detoured there to check it out. It is an incredible collection of historic buildings and artifacts, well worth a visit.
Heading west from the museum, we again entered the Yuma Proving Ground stopping for a bit at a large display of World War II tanks. Then, continuing west, we skirted Imperial Dam and started looking for gas. Mal led us through the chaos of Yuma to a gas station and we were able to resume our trip. We headed toward Picacho and after a side trip to the Grafﬁti Fields (acres and acres of rock grafﬁti) we found a pleasant desert wash with many palo verde and ironwood trees and camped there for the night.
Early next morning, after deciding to head west instead of south, we drove a beautiful ﬂower adorned two track toward Sidewinder Pass. Our road continued west, but deteriorated rapidly on the west side of the pass. We ended up in a rock strewn wash but, luckily, found a steep “go up” that put us on the road to the Guadalupe Mine in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains. Kudos to all who drove that wash and “go up” without hesitation or complaint. We were so thankful the road ran, as it would have been a very long ways around.
Continuing west from the Guadalupe Mine, the road took us past Obregon, the American Girl Mine and out to the Ogilby Cemetery, where Mike left us. He was returning home so he could attend a service for Ron Lipari’s Father who had passed away just before our trip.
Several folks had not seen Tumco, so we detoured there next and found the Hedge Cemetery. Tumco is now closed to vehicles, but an instructional kiosk had some valuable information about the old townsite and mine.
Our next goal was to ﬁnd the Peter Kane Water Hole. Mal and Bill used their navigational apps to help locate it. The desert all around was covered with wild ﬂowers of many varieties. Reluctantly leaving, we continued up the Vinagree Wash Road to Arrowweed Springs, where we found a beautiful old wooden windmill still turning. From the spring, we followed a ridge road over the mountains to an old mine in the Black Mountains complete with rusting autos. That ridge road had to be a highlight, as the ﬂowers and views were awesome. People joked that it was so green that we must be in Ireland. Our trip ended when we arrived back at CA 78 south of Palo Verde. Many thanks to everyone for a great trip.
~ Bob and Sue
Photos: Mal Roode and Mike Vollmert
Coyotes by Jerry Dupree
Coyotes are a very interesting animal and they inhabit 49 states. Their Latin name is Canis Latrans, which means singing dog. Their yips and howls can be heard at any time and is probably how they locate each other. They were only living west of the Mississippi River until bridges were built. They are even found in New York City. They are very adaptable and can live in the driest and hottest desert, and now are living in Alaska as well. The average coyote weighs about 28 pounds, although large males in southern California can weigh as much as 40 pounds. The world record coyote was taken in Caddo County, Oklahoma, and weighed 74 pounds.
Coyotes will eat about anything a dog will eat, which is just about everything. They are opportunists and will often specialize with a preference for fruits, avocados, cantaloups, rodents, birds, carrion, eggs, or insects. They are not territorial and have been captured and tagged, and found as far as a hundred miles away. Each year they begin to pair up in January and hunt together and build a den. They mate in March and have a gestation period about 63 days, which is similar to a dog. Their litter size is dependent on food supply. In lean years they have fewer pups. Litter sizes usually vary from three to as many as 13 pups. The pups are born in May and the male will stay and hunt for the family but does not enter the den. He leaves food outside. Soon after the pups are weaned the male will leave and find another mate for the next season. My wife and I were out in the desert and followed a trail with tiny footprints. It ended at a den with baby coyotes in it. They looked about four to five weeks old.
Coyotes feet are small compared to a dog of the same size. They will hunt using all of their senses: they listen, smell, or see their prey and will circle for a higher or better look or for favorable wind conditions. They are not exclusively nocturnal and can be seen any time of day or night, however most frequently at dusk or sunrise. Coyotes can be solitary or live and hunt as a pack. I have followed their tracks in a straight line on dirt roads. They are looking down the road to see what might cross it and then intercept what may be a juicy jack rabbit dinner.
(click Read more for rest of story and photos)
The Blythe Intaglios or Blythe Geoglyphs are a group of gigantic figures found on the ground near Blythe, California in the Colorado Desert. The intaglios are found east of the Big Maria Mountains, about 15 miles (24 km) north of downtown Blythe, just west of U.S. Highway 95 near the Colorado River. The largest human figure is 171 feet (52 m) long. The intaglios are best viewed from the air.
The geoglyphs or intaglios (anthropomorphic geoglyphs) were created by scraping away layers of darker rocks or pebbles to reveal a stratum of lighter-valued soil. While these “gravel pictographs” are found through the deserts of southeastern California, human figures are found only near the Colorado River. The figures are so immense that many of them were not observed by non-Indians until the 1930s. The set of geoglyphs includes several dozen figures, thought to be ceremonial in nature. Many of them are believed to date from the prehistoric period, but their age and the identity of their creators are still uncertain. Jay von Werlhof and his collaborators obtained 13 AMS radiocarbon dates for the figures, ranging from 900 BCE to 1200 CE. Source: Wikipedia
By Nelson Miller
Jay Lawrence did a very nice write-up on the Blythe Intaglios in the February Newsletter (actually I liberated it from Wikipedia - Jay). Nelson Miller will be leading a trip to the Blythe Intaglios on Sunday, March 12 at the Rendezvous. Also to be included in Nelson’s trip will be two other Intaglios, or geoglyphs, on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, the fisherman and snake intaglios. The Arizona intaglios are thought to probably date from the same period as the Blythe Intaglios, ranging from 900 BCE to 1200 CE. These are thought to perhaps be attributed to Yuman, or Quechan Native American tribes, which may also be known as the Mojave, which operate the Avi Casino, north of Needles. There are reputedly as many as 60 of the geoglyphs along the lower Colorado River. The Mohavi, or Mojave, Twins are another example of these geoglyphs. The Twins are located just south of Fort Mojave, and east of the Avi Casino, overlooking the Colorado River.
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East Ord and Fry Mountains
by Nelson Miller
We had twelve vehicles and over twenty people for our visit to Fry Mountain Gold Mine with its unique wooden arrastra. Fellow explorers included: Bill and Julie Smith, Dave Burdick, Peter Browne, Therese Holm, Alan and Ding Wicker, Bob Peltzman, Michael J. Sugaiz, Bob Jacoby, Nan Savage Healy, Mal Roode, Pete and Janet Austin, Rod MacDonald, Tracy Wood, Lindsay Wood, BJ Keeling, and several other family members and passengers.
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Prospector Alan Heller at Pala
Desert Explorer Alan Heller tried his hand at one of the Pala gem sites where on a good day you can find tourmalines, kunzites, morganites and according to their website at www.digforgems.com. “Screen the dump piles of material we take out of our mine and find the gems we’ve missed—and we miss a lot! You get to keep everything you find at no extra charge; the standard dig fee allows you to keep all you find and you can take home one 5-gallon bucket of rocks that you have screened and washed.”
Looks like Alan had some big fun!
The Annual Desert Explorers Christmas party occured on December 17, 2016 at the home of Allan and Ding Wicker. Please click "Read More" to see all the photos that were taken by Allan Wicker and Jerry Dupree.
North New York Peak via Keystone Canyon
12-10-16 • Ken Eltrich
I have wanted to attempt this hike for some time but it never seemed to work out until now. With the weather cooling down I decided I would give it a go. I couldn’t get anyone else to make the trip with me so I figured I would see how far I could make it. I was pretty sure I could make the saddle above the mine then decide if I wanted to go on. I spent the night with family in Boulder City and got an early start to the trail head. I drove up past the group camping area to where the road pretty much stops at the wash then it continues up to the left. The wilderness boundary is in the area but I never spotted any signs indicating where it starts. There is a nice camp spot there for one or two vehicles and I had the option of staying the night if I needed to. Starting up the trail/wash the road comes and goes, it’s washed out in some areas then ok in others. As I started walking I’m thinking this is great not too hard. We’ll all that changed once I got to the end of the road at the mine! Small patches of snow in the shady areas the rest of the way up. It was pretty steep as I worked my way to the saddle. I just took my time and enjoyed the cool morning. I rested at the saddle and enjoyed the great views from there. If I remember correctly my GPSR showed .45 to the peak from the saddle. I thought that’s not bad I can do it. The problem was that was a straight line as the crow flies. It would take me another two hours to reach the summit from the saddle. Cold and windy at the top I took some pics and found some shelter from the wind behind a rock outcropping. The views are amazing from there. The South peak looked like a class 3 or better and there was no way I could get to the top of it so I took some pictures and enjoyed the views from the top. Pictures do not do this peak justice you just have to go there and experience them first hand. Keystone Canyon is worth several trips to explore and I will be back there are a lot more interesting sites to see. ~ Ken
(click Read more to see the photos)